Tuesday, May 17, 2011


(I googled "facepalm" and found many amusing images, but this one says it all)

Games Workshop made news again in the last few days, and once again it's not good if you're a loyal customer. GW's new terms and conditions for independent retailers were released and essentially put an end to all bypassing of your home countries standard taxes and tariffs for standard retail purchases by purchasing over the internet. Essentially you poor bastards in Canada, Australia New Zealand, Brazil and a whole host of other places can no longer buy GW products from your favorite internet retailers like the War Store here in the US or Maelstrom games in UK whom normally can sell and ship to you 20% cheaper (or more!) than you can buy it in your local store (if they can even get it). Now you are forced to pay whatever prices that result from not only import duties and bad currency conversions but in some cases whatever juice your regional wholesaler has room to tack on before it hits your retailer and gets passed on to you, in some cases your talking about your standard GW blisters costing 2x as much as I can walk into my local GW shop and buy it for.

This is seriously kick in the pants for hobbyists and collectors who are just trying to get by making a living. I have to seriously wonder if GW thinks their hobby is only for the rich or well off? Yes, we know kids with cash friendly parents and middle aged guys with expendable income are the target market but do they need to make it so annoyingly obvious? Such blatant price gouging on a trade level is really low, and stinks of the worst excesses capitalism allows. Now of course GW and its defenders will claim they are just trying to protect local retailers, but GW's standard bi-annual price increases (of which there is another one coming up end of the month) make that claim extremely hypocritical. All they're doing is shrinking and shrinking the customer base and shooting that independent retailer your trying to protect in foot because eventually people just stop...not being able to buy GW models isnt the same as not being able to put food on the table there inst much choice there. I just happened to find a receipt for my Empire Army book bought in 2007 and it was $20..the same army book will now cost $33 or something, have costs really gone up all the much with the mass gutting of the company that went on 2009? after awhile you just have to laugh.

Adding insult to injury GW also announced its Finecast Range of miniatures. For those that dont know, there's been talk for the last couple of months of GW phasing out metals in favor of a new resin / polymer that was cheaper, held detail better and wasnt as brittle as standard resin. My first reaction to this was, " I'll believe it when I see it" I've never seen a resin model look as good as metal one and I've seen plenty of rapid proto-typed resin polymers that dont look as good either. However since these could be cast in existing molds maybe there's promise- we'll have to see, but if they think the can get away with the crap Forge World does..I think they are nuts.

The sick thing about this is the basis in this change lies in the shortage of (or just price increase) of Tin , the fundamental metal in Pewter, which comes mainly these days from China..with Tin at an all time high as a commodity surely cutting into GW's bottom line, this seems like a great idea, however they're deftly rolling out the "Finecast" range as "special" miniatures and slap as much as a 25% increase on the Finecast models that are just the same damn sculpts in a new cheaper material. PT Barnum said "there is a sucker born every minute" and he wasnt kidding. On alot of blogs we all read, I am seeing guys salivating over this like its some awesome great thing. Its the same damn models and molds guys but in a cheaper material and your paying alot more for it!....nice hoodwink GW has going here. Now caveats must apply here...if somehow these models are stunningly better than there metal counterparts, I'll eat some crow here, and probably even buy a few..but I've had resin models break falling over on the desk let alone dropping one on the floor, getting past the brittle thing and new frequency of miscasts are just a couple of hurdles I see, granted I've become partial to metals...I just like some weight to my solo models, obviously I've got nothing against plastic ("plastic legions", and all)..I'm not opposed to new materials as long as quality is there, but the whole "metal is too expensive we're going to use a cheaper material AND charge you more!", is just flat out bad for business. The runaway train that is Games Workshop continues on down the line......


Conspyre said...

It will be interesting to see how exactly this affects Canada. So far there's only been concrete info regarding shipping to the EU and the Southern hemisphere- Canada is served by the same business unit as the US, they shut down GW Canada at the same time they laid off all the "third men", now there's just GW North America instead of GWUS/GWCan. I've never been particularly surprised that the figs cost more in Australia- books and metal minis are heavy as hell, and shipping them halfway across the planet can't be that cheap, especially since GW doesn't do very much manufacturing in China anymore (they used to make paint there, which I believe they've since stopped, and some of their printing). Technically, when you buy things from somewhere that doesn't charge taxes on it, there's a point at which you're supposed to end up paying taxes on them anyway (IL does it on your annual tax return), not that anyone does it, but it's at least theoretically a requirement. Avoiding your home nation's price hike is one thing, tax evasion is a little dodgy.

The shift to resin is a lot like PP's new plastics. It's not necessarily that the new material is actually cheaper, but the price is much more STABLE. Here's hoping that Finecast isn't as shitty as the PP plastics are. The number crunch on the change has to be pretty interesting- lower materials costs (we think), lower shipping costs, initially higher costs for R&D and training, presumably. Not a whole lot of stuff went up by a LOT (Blood Knights and Marneus Calgar were particular winners in that department), looked like the majority of the shifts were in line with the usual May/June annual price rise.

The hard part with most existing resin is consistency of casting... When it works, the detail is nice and crisp, and the flexibility of the mold means that they can do undercuts that vulcanized rubber and steel molds can only dream of. Unfortunately, that same flexibility of the silicone makes them highly unreliable. Frankly, I'd much rather see metal and resin both replaced by plastic entirely- even the most static multiparts, say the Space Marine Scouts, which tried to basically replicate the old kits, look vastly better simply because they can have spaces behind the arms that wouldn't be possible without splitting a metal or resin fig into many pieces that would then have to be glued with cyanoacrylate glue instead of a solvent. Gotta love the fact that plastics get STRONGER at the joins. The heft is nice, but nothing that a nickel under the base can't fix, and the price of nickels isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

John@Plastic Legions said...

Dude come on, no comment on the Godzilla facepalm??

You're right they'd be better off going all plastic, however they need new molds..I see this whole Finecast thing as a marketing ploy to gin up interest in old models with this "amazing new material", we'll see sharp resin edges break where pewter bends.

I have a couple of PP plastic kits now, nowhere near as bad as that stuff we were seeing a year and half ago when it came out..I like the fact they have someone trim it from the sprue for you when they pack, and the mold lines on my stuff aren't in the worst places.
Its no Renedra Ltd quality but it isnt some Wargames Factory sweatshop either.

Felix said...

The salivating over the change comes from conversion mavens who do nothing BUT convert models all day. Switching from metal to resin might open up certain army concepts they were unwilling to pursue before.

Steve said...

I did like the Godzilla facepalm! I am curious at how this finecast will turn out. I will go take a look and keep an eye out for the product. It is just very curious on how they just made a move to make everything cheaper... then raise the prices for everything.

If you want a more accurate picture of why this happened, I am sure it will be mentioned in the investors report at the end of the year.

Q:When will GW stop raising prices?

A:When people stop buying their product and they actually have to worry about customer retention.

joek44l said...

I hear a lot of people complain about GW all the time. It's always the same complaint too: an insanely anti-consumer business model and crazy over-priced figures. The question is, why do so many complainers still buy the stuff and support the company?

Good stuff.

Games Workshop Sucks said...

thankfully there are smaller companies that put out plastic minis sets and rules that are just as good or better than GW, and cheaper.Hopefully more people will start buying from them and start taking a bite out of GWs profits..GW is like the OPEC of miniatures, they keep raising prices and changing their products from year to year and make you feel obligated to buy their overpriced crap just to keep up.

John M said...

Believe me the New Zealand gaming community is rather shocked at this turn of events, and the subsequent price hike announced a couple of days later. And the mark up isnt 20% at local retailers here.

Purchasing from Maelstrom in the UK you could, with or without their regular special deals, save 30-50% on most products.

With Battlefront also stopping Maelstrom selling Flames of War miniatures this month the wargaming community down under has taken a huge hit.

Local retailers shouldnt expect much pick up in sales as people, maybe some but not a lot. I understand their perspective though as no-one, and i do mean no-one, purchases locally here we all use internet sellers. Now we cant the 2nd hand market (e-bay & trade me) will most likely dominate the market in the short term.

The worst thing for me is I was so looking forward to new army books, new figures and maybe a 3rd army. Thats definately out of the question now.

John@Plastic Legions said...

@John M

Personally from a straight business/ economic standpoint I am disgusted. With the AUD stronger than the US dollar and NZD a few pennies shy of par..the fact that I can by something here in the US 40%-50% cheaper than you is just crazy especially when everyone involved is a member of the WTO (so its not like the government is stepping on GW's bottom line any more then they are here.)

GW is doing this because you are a cornered market and they can, period. Its flat out price gouging,and IF we weren't talking luxury hobby items here, but other more mainstream goods, GW could never survive the public outcry over a move like this.

If I lived in the AUS/NZ I would be selling all my GW stuff on the temporary secondary market you'll surely see and moving to other game systems from companies that see their customers as something other than inhuman cash dispensers.

Fortunately for me I have all the GW product I ever need so I am in liquidation mode..even more so now due to my solidarity with folks under the foot GW's anti customer polices, As a customer I've personally had it as well, I've got a few dozen LotR models (metal thank you) I am looking for- then I am out..sell, sell, sell..I'll keep my Empire army for when the mood strikes..but considering I have alot of 2nd and 3rd army stuff still in Shrinkwrap..I should just put in on Ebay with the caveat I ship to AUS/NZ..LOL!

Best of luck to you in your future endeavors in the hobby

Lord Azaghul said...

This whole set of changes really threw me.

This time I didn't even get angry, but my jaw hit the floor.
The price increase doesn't feel justified and I can't believe what GW is doing to the Southern Hemisphere - its just plan insulting!

I've been a long time GW fan/customer, but I'm also practical. I'm a working adult, with real life priorities. I just don't see how GW expects me to keep buying new products at rising prices when they aren't even keeping the game fair for all armies.

For about a year and half I've been gradually backing off on my purchases, and I think this one will push me farther yet. (We've been playing lots of board games on fantasy night, and 40k night is now welcoming spartan games.) The increase on battalion and books is just ludicrise, and the insult to my fellow gamers in the south can't be over looked. I really think they have gone to far.

I've been expanding into other games, Dystopian Wars really has me right now. Its a level fun game, with lots of promise. And best of all I don't feel like I have to plan an army expansion 6 months in advance!

I don't want GW to go under - I do enjoy many of there games and products - but I do want them to feel a hit in sales and profit and maybe get the message that 'they aren't doing right by the customer'.

John M said...

The perspective from the other side is interesting. I am lucky in that a couple of the founders and designers of the Flames of War game system are members of my local gaming club.

Talking about this last night they argued that a key factor in Battlefronts decision to stop selling to Maelstrom is that it was being used by retailers to avoid purchasing off Battlefront direct. The same also went for local GW retailers who would source their stock from Maelstrom etc rather than GW direct.

GW big issue is that their exchange calculations used to determine pricing outside the US are antiquated to say the least.

I am lucky in that my income has allowed me to stock up on all of the Dwarf/High Elf models I need but it is disappointing that expanding my collections from now on will be prohibitively expensive.

But its the impact on new gamers that concerns me the most, if GW wanted to restrict the hobby to middle aged high income earners than their strategy is spot on. But if they want to expand the game they need kids to play and with the costs I wouldnt recommend it to many.


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